Take a couple of phone numbers with you, so you can contact Haruna or Modou, if you can't see them at the airport to meet you:-
Remember to print Haruna's photo from this website and take it in your passport, so it's handy when you need it and you know you are meeting the right man at the airport.
Bear in mind that your mobile may not work in Gambia until you change the SIM card or find a local service on your phone. There are phones available to the public at the airport and any member of the airport staff are likely to let you use their mobile or make a quick call to Modou, if needed.
Also, Modou's phone seems to work better than Haruna's, so if calling from abroad always call Modou. However, call Haruna if you are at the airport and have missed him.
Missing Haruna at the airport has happened only once since 1994 and under very exceptional circumstances!
For USA citizens some good travel information is available here.......... http://www.traveldocs.com/gm/index.htm
Visas are not required for UK or European Union citizens.
Cash machines [ATM] at Standard Chartered banks at Westfield, Banjul and the garage by the traffic lights on Kairaba Avenue. The Senegambia Beach Hotel also has a cash machine. The Standard Chartered bank and its ATM in Fajara/Bakau are now closed.
You can use only Visa cards to withdraw up to D2000 (about £36) at a time from these cash machines. You can make repeated withdrawals on the same day, but it can take a while - the machines are quite slow! Also, they are frequently out of action either because they run out of money or the computers are down. They are all a short taxi ride from the guest house. Master card is not accepted at the ATM's, but we can sometimes persuade friends who own supermarkets to give cash on Master cards.
Standard Chartered will also cash UK cheques of any amount on production of a passport. However, if you want to rely on this, especially for significant amounts, then please check that this facility is still available. Things always change, over time!
It's all too much palaver when you've come here to relax! Better to make sure you can manage with Visa for your emergency back up. We advise you to fund all your spending money with cash or travellers cheques.
Banks in Banjul
8:00am to 1:30pm. Monday to Thursday
8:00am to 11:00am. Friday
Closed on Saturday and Public holidays
Branches of all banks else where
08:00-12.00 and 16:00-18:00 Monday to Friday
08:00-13:00 Saturday (except some branches of Standard Chartered Bank which are open from 16:00-18:00 on Saturdays)
How much pocket money to bring? You can get by on very little here, as all your food, room and clothing needs are provided already. However, you are sure to want a few beers, soft drinks and maybe some souvenirs. I suggest you bring £300 to £400 and live like royalty on your holiday. You'll be able to do all the suggested excursions and have enough left over to pay a years school fees for some lucky child, if you want to.
Although vaccinations/inoculations are not compulsory to enter the The Gambia from Europe or USA, we suggest that if you have any medical condition that you take medical advice at least three weeks before departing. The NetDoctor website gives a list of vaccinations that they recommended for The Gambia. You couls also visit the NHS website FitForTravel.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is only required for travellers, over 1 year of age, arriving from endemic or infected areas (see WHO website http://www.who.int). Not needed if you come directly from Europe or America. The last outbreak in The Gambia was 1978!!
Our personal opinion about this is based on years of travel to The Gambia ourselves and the experiences of many of our guests. We think that doctors and travel clinics have a vested interest in selling you their drugs and that their recommendations are biased. They frighten you into buying unnecessary medicatiuon, just so they can profit from your fear. They are no better than any other drug pushers.
For the average 2 week holiday in The Gambia, doing what most people do and going where most people go, most of the time, the only precautions needed are for malaria.
It angers and sadens us to hear of our guests frightened into paying around a hundred pounds or so for medication they don't really need. We feel deeply disappointed that some people can never come to the Gambia because of the advice of so called professionals.
We take the risk of malaria seriously, making sure all our guests take sensible precautions, such as closing their door to their room at dusk, when the mosquitoes begin to fly. None of our guests have contracted malaria on any of our trips. All of our rooms have mosquito nets over the beds and on windows.
Before leaving for The Gambia you should consult your GP or homoeopath for the right anti-malarial for you.
Remember that most anti-malarials will need to be started a few days or weeks before departure and continued for a period after your return because malaria can have a long incubation period. Refer to the information leaflet which accompanies the anti-malarial you use for further details.
You may wish to research the reported side effects of Mefloquine aka Larium(R).
Homoeopathic anti-malarials are also available, some would say preferable. There is a new vaccine-like homoeopathic available from http://www.blueturtlegroup.com
Note that no anti-malarial guarantees 100% protection against contracting malaria, but our experience shows that Demal 200 is the most effective preventative and treatment. The greatest risk of being bitten is between dusk and dawn. Covering up and using insect repellent when you're outside after dark is advised.
What to wear:
Bring sandals. You'll want long sleeve tops and long skirts or trousers to cover up in the evenings. Anything that you have worn to your home Airport will do you if we have an occasional cool evening, otherwise pack a jumper.
Bring insect repellents and sun cream and any toiletries you will need. Most things are in the local supermarkets nowadays, but we can't guarantee you'll get the brands you like.
A torch is useful for walking around Bakau at night (there are very few streetlights) and if you go up country.
A basic first aid kit containing preparations for dehydration, stomach upsets, insect bites and cuts. Hopefully you'll not need it, but better safe than sorry and the local kids will love your cartoon plasters! In reality local pharmacies have most things. Some stuff is available over the counter here that would require a prescription in Europe or USA.
All the electrical sockets in the guest house are square 3 pin 240 volts as standard in UK.
There are several car rental companies in The Gambia. Check with Haruna or at the airport for details. Visitors wishing to rent a self-drive should possess either an International Driving Permit, which is accepted for a period of three months or a UK driving license, which can be used for a short visit. Otherwise hire a jeep with a driver from. Then you don't need to have papers nor even fill in a form.
Shop around to get better deals than the travel agent will offer you.
If you need travel insurance for your holiday the Travel-Quest travel insurance shop links to a wide range of UK travel insurers offering everything from single trip to family, annual and multi-trip travel insurance; as well as specialist insurance for backpackers, skiers, snowboarders, cyclists and adventure sports.
Gambia Tourist Tax:
Things change, given time, but occassionally there is a £5 per person levy on tourists entering at Banjul airport. It is paid in cash in your usual currency e.g .£ pounds or Euros, so be prepared to have it to hand immediately after passport control.
Baggage Retrieval and customs:
Grab a trolly and choose if you want to pay £1 per head to local porters to push your trolly. It's not much, but you'll need to have some pound coins to hand! They don't do much portering for it either, so you may want to push your own trolley the short distance to the waiting taxi.
Reclaim is on a carousel pretty much in the same room as passport control and customs. Small country = small airport! Once you have all your bags proceed to customs. If you are carrying second hand mobiles as gifts keep them quietly about your person or you will be asked to pay import duties, if they are found in your bags.
Right after customs you go out a nearby door and you'll see Haruna, amonst others meeting the flight. It is then a very short walk to the taxi and Haruna will push your trolley. At this stage you might want to use the airport money change facility, before reaching the taxi. However, Haruna can dash out the next morning to change money for you, so you might as well relax in the guest house until then.